Save Newham City Farm and Newham Green Party have today, on City Farm Day (24th of March 2022), announced an alliance which will see them stand joint candidates in Beckton in the 5th of May election. Sol Bourgeon, Karen Webb-Green and Alison McLucas will represent the Green Party in Beckton on a platform of saving Newham City Farm. Rob Callender, the Green Party candidate for Mayor of Newham, will stand on the same platform.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and 6 of her Cabinet Members, including Beckton Cllr James Asser, voted to close Newham City Farm in September 2021. The decision has not been ratified by Full Council and, despite a petition of over 47,000 signatures calling for the farm to be reopened and persistent lobbying by Save Newham City Farm campaign supporters, Newham Council has avoided engaging satisfactorily with the campaign.
This has left the campaign no choice but to stand in the upcoming elections. Newham Green Party has been a persistent ally in the campaign to save Newham City Farm, and represents the strongest opportunity to unseat the Cabinet Member responsible for the decision to close Newham City Farm, Cllr James Asser of Beckton, Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Sustainable Transport.
Save Newham City Farm campaigner and Beckton resident Alison says, “Numerous requests for the local Labour Council to hold fair dialogue have been rebuffed or completely ignored. Through our campaign we have learnt that the closure by stealth of Newham City Farm and the disorganised Beckton Parks Masterplan consultation are just examples among many of how the Council is dealing with resident concerns. Through our own engagement with the local community, we have learned that there is deep frustration and mistrust because Councillors have routinely not responded to communications. Deputations to Full Council have not been facilitated and public questions submitted have not been answered. We did not start out intending to stand in the May election, but Newham Labour’s refusal to listen to the people they are supposed to represent has left us with no choice.”
Alison McLucas added “I am standing as a Green not only because I want to see our 45 year old farm reinstated to benefit the community again but also because the Green Party permits me to be an independent voice on the Council to represent my community, to hold the Mayor and Council to account and to ensure that my fellow residents are included properly in consultation and the decision-making processes on all issues.”
Karen Webb-Green, Save Newham City Farm campaigner and Beckton resident said “This is typical of the council and something we must challenge. Many projects, including those around green areas, simply aren’t thought through or consulted on adequately. The lack of consultation around the Farm closure and many other decisions and a huge waste of public funds are why I am standing as a Green candidate – to oppose a Labour Council which is not respectful of voters and residents.”
Rob Callender, Newham Greens candidate for Mayor of Newham and candidate for Royal Victoria ward, said “We are delighted to be standing joint candidates with Save Newham City Farm. We have supported the campaign from the beginning and are proud of the work already done to save such an important local amenity. We think it’s the perfect next step to increase the pressure on Newham Labour over their terrible decision to deprive so many current and future generations of the opportunities to learn and volunteer which the farm provided. Together, alongside my campaign for Mayor, we will fight to ensure Newham Labour can no longer ignore residents’ views in the Council Chamber”.
Whilst the three Green candidates were at the closed farm gates recently, they were astonished to find that two young chickens had been abandoned there. They rescued the chicks, which have temporarily been named Cavalo Nero and Kale, as Green Party / Save Newham City Farm mascots. Until a more suitable home can be found, they have been living in an old playhouse in Alison’s garden.
Jenny Mwangura, Chair of the Save Newham City Farm campaign says “I hope this chance finding is a sign of good things to come for Beckton’s Green candidates and a community farm which is the ideal venue for education about responsible food production, recycling, climate change and other Green issues. We hope to see the chicks return to a saved Newham City Farm one day.”